Over the past month, Russia has been amassing troops and military equipment near the border with Ukraine, with US officials warning European nations that Vladimir Putin might be on the verge of invading Ukraine again. There is also speculation Russia could be poised to intervene in the ongoing crisis along the Belarus-Poland border, while the UK has been told an armed conflict needs to be prepared for to be avoided.
General Sir Nick Carter, the outgoing head of the UK’s armed forces, has said the British military will have to be ready for war with Russia moving forward.
Speaking in a series of interviews before his departure as chief of the defence staff at the end of the month, Gen Carter said he didn’t believe Russia really wanted a “hot war” but that it was important to remain “on guard”.
And concern is growing across the pond. While Russia has been known to increase threat levels only to back off later, US officials believe this time to be “different”.
Republican Mike Turner, a member of the House Armed Services and Intelligence committees, said the current situation “certainly leads to the conclusion that Russia has different intentions this time.”
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A senior Biden administration official said the United States is consulting allies about the situation, and Vice President Kamala Harris discussed it “extensively” with French President Emmanuel Macron.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken is also in touch with European allies about the matter, the official said.
A US official in Germany said: “There has been a concerted effort in capitals around Europe to convey how concerned we are with the situation.”
There was extensive “information/intelligence sharing, and conversations across a broad spectrum” from the military and diplomats across Europe.
Over the weekend, UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss urged Putin to intervene in the “shameful manufactured migrant crisis” unfolding at the border.
Western nations have accused Belarus of attracting people wanting to come to the EU to the border, while Poland has been rebuffing their efforts to enter.
Concerns are growing in Ukraine too, with Ukrainian Foreign Affairs Minister Dmytro Kuleba telling ABC News that with new Russian troops in place along the border, “it will not take Russia a lot of time to resort to an offensive action if it decides to do so”.
Russian units newly arrived along the border have taken to repositioning themselves under the cover of night.
The units include artillery, tanks, new infantry units and other armoured units that are normally based elsewhere in the country.
Twice last week, nuclear-capable Russian bombers flew over Belarus near Poland, a move Russian officials said was in response to a military buildup in Poland near the Belarus border.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov dismissed the US concerns, according to Russian state-controlled media.
He said: “The movements of our armed forces on our soil shouldn’t be of anyone’s concern. Russia poses no threat to anyone.”